I went to a Church while on vacation a few years back where I saw a kind of food drive that I haven’t seen before or since. As people left the Church, their food pantry had volunteers giving away brown paper grocery bags. Each bag had a grocery list printed out stapled to it. They asked people to fill the bag with the items on the list and bring it back to the Church. The bags would be given to families in need.
This worked on so many levels. First off, for families with children, this is a great teachable moment. The cost to buy the groceries on the list would be anywhere between $25-30, depending on what people buy. Each of our friends took a grocery bag and all our families went off to the closest store. We engaged our kids in picking out what kinds of food we would want to give to a family in need. The kids really got into it.
After checking out, we drove the food right back to the Church and dropped it off. One family went so far as to write some encouraging notes and put them in the bag. Something to add a personal touch for the family they’d be helping.
Doing a food drive doesn’t just have to be about filling the shelves in your food pantry. At its best, it should be a way of getting people involved in what you’re doing. At the end of the day, it’s not about food, it’s about people. The people who are getting help as well as the people who are serving. Everybody wins.
On a larger scale, this kind of food drive can be done like the big National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive every year. This food drive brings in massive amounts of food for Food Banks across the country, largely because they advertise it and drop off branded grocery bags in every mailbox. The bags serve as a helpful reminder and are often filled to the brim before being set out on the front porch for pickup.
You’ll need to figure out what scale fits for your food pantry, but the key is to make it easy for people to get involved in the good that you’re doing.